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‘Trusted venues’ will not have to apply for exemptions, Minister

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The Loren has been named as one of three ‘trusted venues’ (Photograph supplied)
Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The approval of “trusted venues” will make “a huge difference” in clearing exemptions for large gatherings this summer, the Senate heard yesterday.

Locations that qualify for the designation will be able to host events at 50 per cent capacity without having to apply for exemptions, according to Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport.

Dr Peets told the Senate that three properties have been approved so far: the Hamilton Princess, Rosewood and The Loren.

He said applications were in train for other properties to get cleared as trusted venues.

Dr Peets said the locations came with “criteria around Covid management that the health department as well as our ministry are satisfied with”.

Responsibility for exemptions switched to Dr Peets’ ministry from National Security on June 24, resulting in “a small backlog” of requests – which he said had all been processed.

Dr Peets said the ministry’s team was trying to streamline the process of clearing large groups, and aimed to get them completed within ten to 15 days.

He added: “We have received 32 applications since this responsibility was transferred to us and we are processing them without delay.”

Dr Peets said the main issue holding up exemptions was incomplete information on the application.

Ben Smith, the Opposition spokesman in the Senate for youth, sports and community affairs, asked for details on when the requirement for the use of SafeKey could be waived.

The code can be used to verify a recent negative test for the coronavirus as well as proof of completed vaccination against the virus.

Dr Peets said the exemptions were being dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Last week he confirmed that organisers of cricket matches would only be required to use SafeKey if more than 275 people attended a match.

“A 'one size fits all’ approach does not necessarily work,” he said.

“Right now the policy I have asked the department to push forward is for indoor events that are 50 persons or less to forego the need for SafeKey, and for outdoor events of 100 or less.

“This is partially due to the fact that most people, at least everyone I’ve talked to in the last couple of weeks, really do want to have events this summer.”

Dr Peets confirmed that some event organisers had “indicated they would like to have their events without SafeKey”.

He added: “There is no special application process for that.”

Under current regulations, the maximum number of people allowed to gather is 50. Requests for exemptions can be submitted online.

Dr Peets told the Senate that the special circumstances of each event were being considered.

“I have been accused of being inconsistent,” he said. “Actually, consistency is not the real issue. The real issue for me is finding the right balance.”

⋅ To read the minister’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published July 08, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated July 08, 2021 at 6:50 am)

‘Trusted venues’ will not have to apply for exemptions, Minister

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